SSP Chawrasia’s extraordinary achievements at the international stage have now become part of Indian golfing folklore. On Sunday, the plucky Indian added another glorious chapter to his glittering career as he marched to an emphatic seven-shot victory at the US$ 1.75 million Hero Indian Open 2017, to successfully defend his crown.
The Indian delighted the home crowd at the DLF Golf & Country Club in Gurgaon with a rock-solid one-under-71 on the final day of the European Tour and Asian Tour co-sanctioned event to end the week with an impressive total of 10-under-278 en route his sixth international win.
Malaysia’s Gavin Green finished a distant second at three-under-285. Anirban Lahiri was the next best Indian after Chawrasia as he claimed tied fifth place at one-under-287 after a final round of 71. Lahiri was one among the seven players who finished the tournament with sub-par totals.
SSP, who has now become the second Indian after Jeev Milkha Singh to bag four European Tour titles, tamed the treacherous course at the DLF Golf & Country Club with scores of 72, 67, 68 and 71 to also become the first player to retain the title since Jyoti Randhawa, who achieved the feat in 2007.
Chawrasia sounded an alarm to all his rivals early in the day when he drained a hat trick of birdies on the 13th, 14th and 15th in his unfinished third round. The birdie blitz gave him a crucial two-shot lead at nine-under at the end of round three.
In the final round, SSP made a confident start with an early birdie on the fourth. He then stumbled with bogeys on the sixth and seventh but soon regained ground by sinking birdies on the eighth, ninth and 13th to build a commanding lead. Chawrasia finally coasted to victory despite a last-hole bogey and emerged as the first Indian to defend a European Tour title as his nearest rivals, Malaysian Gavin Green and Spaniard Carlos Pigem failed to mount a challenge.
Chawrasia said, “I feel great as it’s one of the toughest courses I’ve played on. Winning by seven shots, I’m really happy. This is probably the best win of my career. I gave my hundred per cent and I practiced a lot on everything.
“When I finished the round, I knew I had a few shots lead into the final round. I didn’t need birdies, just aiming for pars in the final round. After bogeys on 6 and 7, I was a little edgy and I had to make some birdies. I then got a bit serious and managed to come back.
“I just played good this week, obviously some luck too. Jeev was telling me to calm down and play my own game and not look at others. I told him I’ll follow his advice and I followed the same routine.
“I struggled a bit on the greens, but I made some good up and downs and good putts. I learned many things this week and hopefully I can play better in Europe. That’s my target next, I have to win in Europe.”
The 38-year-old SSP took home the winner’s cheque worth US$ 291,660 as the trophy stayed in India for the third year running. He has now moved up from 194th place to 18th position in the European Tour’s Race to Dubai and from 60th to second in the Asian Tour Order of Merit. The Kolkata man is now also likely to move up about 80 spots from his current 258th position in the official world golf ranking when the updated rankings are released on Monday afternoon.
The other important milestone achieved by Chawrasia as a result of his victory on Sunday was, becoming the third Indian after Jyoti Randhawa (2000, 2006 & 2007) and Ali Sher (1991 & 1993) to win the Indian Open on two or more occasions (2016 & 2017).
Anirban Lahiri, the 2015 champion, moved up three spots to tied fifth place in the last round courtesy his 71 on Sunday.
Among the other Indians, Chiragh Kumar was tied 22nd at five-over-293. Chikkarangappa was a further two shots back in tied 34th while Shubhankar Sharma closed the tournament in tied 40th at nine-over-297.
Gaganjeet Bhullar and Shamim Khan were both in tied 43rd at 10-over-298. Arjun Atwal and Ajeetesh Sandhu claimed tied 55th at 13-over-301.
Digvijay Singh and Deepinder Singh Kullar were tied 60th at 14-over-302 even as Jyoti Randhawa occupied 64th at 15-over-303.
Rashid Khan (308), amateur Rigel Fernandes (309) and Abhijit Singh Chadha (310) took 67th, 68th and 69th places respectively.